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Is the JRTC a Mistake in the Making?

Metro Jacksonville's Robert Mann presents an argument that years of planning for a 'Regional Transportation Center' have proved that Jacksonville Doesn't Get It!

Published August 1, 2012 in Transit      56 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

A Transportation Center is a One Stop Shop…But Not in Jacksonville



The Jacksonville Terminal Railroad Station was built in 1919, and handled 41,095 daily passengers - or 15 million year. Far more passengers traveled through the station than all of the city’s modes of transportation handle today. In fact today’s numbers break down like this:
JTA sees 12,835,000 passengers a day, the Amtrak 74,733, and Greyhound 3,200,000 (sources: JTA, Amtrak Florida Fact Sheet 2011, President and CEO David Leach).  Even with the assumption that half of all JTA bus passengers system wide would pass through the JRTC, those four massive stations would be splitting 6,638 daily passengers. The original Jacksonville Terminal Station handled 55,000 daily passengers in 1925, before an expansion of facilities was completed. For comparisons sake, Jacksonville International Airport handles around 8 million passengers per year. The bottom line is this: the former railroad station, known today as the Prime Osborn Convention Center, is more than capable of handling all traffic without the addition of any new buildings, now and in the future.

The plan for the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) incorporates a Greyhound Station and city bus terminal, Skyway station, JTA offices, and shops and restaurants with a new Amtrak station.  When JTA/FDOT came up with the plan back in 2002, the Prime Osborn stood between Amtrak and other surface transportation modes, so they simply planned the JRTC around it. This causes the so-called “Center” to be a collection of disconnected buildings separated by a ridiculous, twisting, elevated concourse. A bus-to- train transfer of 4 blocks on surface streets, or 7 torturous blocks from an Amtrak train side via the planned elevated concourses.  Taking ones chances with the surface streets will involve lugging your baggage across two freeway ramps. If the station is built in 4 independent buildings sprawled across the LaVilla neighborhood, it will be completely dysfunctional, a disaster as big as the unfinished Skyway.




SOMETHING IS ROTTEN ON MYRTLE AVENUE


The Proposed Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center master site plan

The local media and politicians have told us that in order to develop more downtown office space near the bus station, Greyhound has to be moved. There is a distinct implication that whatever new business is planned to use that space, will not build near the bus station.  So following my hunch as an old Trailway's Bus Supervisor, I picked up the phone and called the CEO of Greyhound. He explained to me that they are not aware of a single complaint concerning the location of the bus station or new offices.

Thus the whole project reeks of a land grab by an out of control rogue agency. Considering the property already owned by JTA, their bus lots, Skyway facility, and new cluster of stations, they will utilize more ground then the Vatican Citys, 0.17 square miles.

In the midst of all of this planning and the grant requests, the city is considering shutting down the Prime Osborn and moving it to the Riverwalk downtown. However, no timeline is established for the move.



THE GREYHOUND PROBLEM?



Meanwhile another “Greyhound problem” arises when one mentions moving the buses and trains away from their current location. JTA apparently believes visitors to the Prime Osborn would not have a problem dealing with Amtrak passengers, but they cannot under any circumstances mingle with bus passengers. The fact that along with airline passengers, bus and train commuters are often one in the same has never occurred to these planners.  Even with Amtrak back in downtown, the JRTC plan is so spread out that the station will never have the vibrancy to make it the economic engine it could be. Without the numbers of passengers from Greyhound, and the new transportations systems including Megabus, Red Coach, La Cubana, Autobus, JTA city buses, BRT and the skyway, ALL IN ONE PLACE, it will never have the critical mass for the planned retail and restaurants to survive.

The apparent need to abandon the current Greyhound station for a new isolated station for the sole purpose of social, racial and class segregation is completely illogical.  This is reminiscent of Jim Crow and contradicts the city’s very own bus station named for Rosa Parks.  The perverted logic of their excuse says that passengers who use the bus are unfit for social interaction with the greater community. Transferring passengers to and from Amtrak are welcome as long as they are not using the bus station.  Apparently a metamorphosis takes place as soon as one walks through the doors of the Greyhound station, students, senior citizens and bus tour groups, regardless of race, income or social status are labeled UNDESIRABLES.  


We have been told this is a bus terminal for all carriers and that Greyhound demanded a new location closer to the freeway. According to Greyhound lines officials, this is pure fabrication on the part of our over zealous ‘authority.’ Greyhound Lines says they are perfectly content to stay right where they are, the station is paid for and access is easy. They also said they WILL NOT share the station with any carrier that doesn’t pay their full share of the station’s cost. This means when we were told how Megabus, La Cubana, Red Coach and Auto-Bus might all be using the new station, we were being fed a bowl of poppycock.

If we stay with one fixed station location rather than 4 distinct buildings, there is really no reason why we couldn't move Greyhound into the future Transportation Center within the historic railroad station. This is how it works in Fort Worth, Santa Ana and a dozen other ‘transportation centers.’ While the transfer of functions and construction takes place, it would be entirely possible to use a portion of the grand old terminal for transportation purposes. The former Black waiting room could be utilized and depending on peak loads, (which is exactly what New Orleans did at their Union Station Transportation Center) it is possible that all bus and train operations could work from this space as a strictly interim basis.

It is not only possible to consolidate Greyhound into this former train station, but local transit buses, taxis, Amtrak, commuter rails, and the Jacksonville's Skyway monorail system can be incorporated as well.  Lose Greyhound and you have kicked the regional connectivity completely out of the picture, losing any and all functionality to the entire Center.



BUILD THIS GREYHOUND STATION AND THE JRTC WILL FAIL



JTA received grant approval to start the new Greyhound Terminal, but the JRTC will actually make the transfer situation in Jacksonville much more difficult. The current Greyhound Station is 8 blocks from the historic train terminal. The plan for the new station is to position the Greyhound station 7 blocks away via the serpentine, elevated concourse, making it more complicated for passengers to go from the bus to the train, and they are calling that a “Transportation Center”.

With the Prime Osborn empty within a few years, the City has an unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate the old terminal into a truly SEAMLESS intermodal station.  Any approval of the current scheme is a guarantee that Jacksonville will not have a true intermodal terminal, regardless of what they are calling this project, for decades to come.  Jacksonville, rethink and consolidate this entire complex. Help to stop this next FDOT/JTA fiasco by voicing your opinion.

 
Mayor Alvin Brown
City Hall at St. James Building
117 W. Duval St.  Suite 400
Jacksonville, FL  32202
Phone: (904) 630-1776
E-mail: mayorbrown@coj.net  

Ananth Prasad, P.E., Secretary
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0450
Phone: 850-414-5205
Fax: 850-414-5201

Peter Rogoff, Director
Federal Transit Administration
East Building
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
TTY = 1-800-877-8339
Voice = 1-866-377-8642
VCO = 1-877-877-6280

Yvette Taylor, Regional Director
Federal Transit Administration
230 Peachtree, NW
Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30303
Telephone: (404) 865-5600

Article by Robert Mann and Kelsi Hasden







56 Comments

mbwright

August 01, 2012, 08:19:08 AM
I grew up in Santa Ana, CA, and witnessed the building of the regional transportation center.  What a great, vibrant place it is.  There are many examples of good centers.  The goal should be to make everything as close and easy to use.  I really don't understand why the current plan is acceptable.  What ever happened to peer review?  Jacksonville always seems to get the worst designed, most expensive design, where it is predicted to fail, and then it does.  Just because you are a planner or PE, does not mean you have a clue.

jcjohnpaint

August 01, 2012, 08:45:58 AM
And when are the people briefed on these plans.  I don't remember voting on the mobility fee moratorium either.  Hell I don't even remember hearing anything about it outside of MJ.  I think the same can be said about the movement taking place on this poor excuse of a TC.  I am for hiring from the inside of these people are competent, but that is not what we have here;  We need to start looking elsewhere. 

mbwright

August 01, 2012, 08:48:16 AM
They need to scrap the current plan and start over.  MJ has posted much better, less expensive, and functional plans.  Give the people what they want, don't tell them what they want.

tufsu1

August 01, 2012, 08:59:33 AM
^ the problem with that theory is a vast majority of people in Jacksonville probably see no need for the JRTC or transit at all.

as for the Greyhound Station, Mr. Blaylock told me last week that Greyhound really wants to be on Adams St..so they can get right onto I-95 NB....of course, never mind that being on Forsyth St would give them direct access from I-95 NB

wsansewjs

August 01, 2012, 10:04:09 AM
"Oh for the love of the bloody poppycockies pippy pappy rubbish load of poppycock!"

JTA and its JRTC planners are the most stupidest organization on this planet. They want to blow our tax money for their own stupidity.

Do your part and tell them to SCRAP this plan, accept MJ's suggestion of their own plan, OR commission a new plan! Oh wait! They already wasted money on planning!

This frustrates me so much right now.

-Josh

Tacachale

August 01, 2012, 10:13:44 AM
Perhaps we can still consolidate the rest of the center even if Greyhound goes there. We still have time on the rest of it.

JFman00

August 01, 2012, 10:29:48 AM
It's an attempt,  but definitely not a very good one. I guess in Jacksonville sprawl terms, its a consolidated center. And the attempt at transit-oriented development is adorable.

But effort isn't enough. Cattle have experienced more rational and consolidated transportation center than the JRTC. And while the arrangement of the TOD doesn't look too bad, it's not going to be mixed-use? That guarantees another neighborhood that shutters its blinds after 5 pm.

chipwich

August 01, 2012, 10:46:07 AM
Safe to say, the City doesn't need a transportation center that spans 4 entire blocks.   I'm not sure even NYC needs a transportation center that spans nearly 4 football fields.  Even worse, it's on the outskirts of downtown.  It is near nothing of significance.  Even worse, all those buildings they labeled "retail" will sit vacant for as long as they as they used for that intended purpose.

Good job Jacksonville!

Captain Zissou

August 01, 2012, 01:05:34 PM
What exactly does the city think they are going to do with the rest of the Prime Osborn property once the convention center moves?  They might as well put it to good use and fill it with transit.

Also, is there currently any show/conference/convention that takes place in the Prime that couldn't fit somewhere else??  between the Hyatt, the area, the fairgrounds, metro park, not to mention facilities outside of DT, I am pretty sure we could service the current convention center schedule with other venues for a few years until the new one is built.

JFman00

August 01, 2012, 01:22:55 PM
Why not put a lot of the retail-only development in the Prime Osborne and the actual terminal buildings and make the spaces labeled retail as mixed-use?

vicupstate

August 01, 2012, 01:53:12 PM
What exactly does the city think they are going to do with the rest of the Prime Osborn property once the convention center moves?  They might as well put it to good use and fill it with transit.

Also, is there currently any show/conference/convention that takes place in the Prime that couldn't fit somewhere else??  between the Hyatt, the area, the fairgrounds, metro park, not to mention facilities outside of DT, I am pretty sure we could service the current convention center schedule with other venues for a few years until the new one is built.

I was on vacation recently and maybe missed it, but is relocating the Convention Center a 'done' or even 'close to done' deal?  Last I heard there was a plan to use the old courthouse site, but still very much a proposal at this point.   

tufsu1

August 01, 2012, 03:21:47 PM
Perhaps we can still consolidate the rest of the center even if Greyhound goes there. We still have time on the rest of it.

I think JTA actually wants to do that...but until the City decided whether the Prime will or won't be a convention center, JTA feels its hands are tied.

They also constantly bring up the fact that they already have environmental approvals...and changes now would require going back and amending those

Tacachale

August 01, 2012, 04:14:34 PM
^Yeah, the convention center issue is something that needs to be solved, quick. We'll see.

On the environmental approvals, I'd rather stick JTA with a little more paperwork than stick Jacksonville with higher costs and second-rate buildings, but maybe that's just me.

Captain Zissou

August 01, 2012, 05:23:08 PM
What exactly does the city think they are going to do with the rest of the Prime Osborn property once the convention center moves?  They might as well put it to good use and fill it with transit.

Also, is there currently any show/conference/convention that takes place in the Prime that couldn't fit somewhere else??  between the Hyatt, the area, the fairgrounds, metro park, not to mention facilities outside of DT, I am pretty sure we could service the current convention center schedule with other venues for a few years until the new one is built.

I was on vacation recently and maybe missed it, but is relocating the Convention Center a 'done' or even 'close to done' deal?  Last I heard there was a plan to use the old courthouse site, but still very much a proposal at this point.   

It is not, but strong arguments have been made that the convention center is not worth its investment.  Regardless of what we do in the future, I think we need to quite using the PO as a convention center.

Ocklawaha

August 01, 2012, 08:05:13 PM
^ the problem with that theory is a vast majority of people in Jacksonville probably see no need for the JRTC or transit at all.

as for the Greyhound Station, Mr. Blaylock told me last week that Greyhound really wants to be on Adams St..so they can get right onto I-95 NB....of course, never mind that being on Forsyth St would give them direct access from I-95 NB

I anticipated that someone would jump on the 'Greyhound really wants to be...' line of reasoning via FDOT/JTA. REALLY? I'm an old Jacksonville intercity bus supervisor and spoke with the president and CEO of GLI. He told me in no uncertain terms that GREYHOUND IS NOT DRIVING THIS THING, FDOT AND JTA ARE.

Tacachale, something EVERY citizen of Jacksonville should know is once you allow a disconnected intercity bus terminal to be built, blocks away from the side of any train, connectivity is gone. What purpose is a Transportation Center if it is not to make a trip from New York to Gainesville palatable? Amtrak to Jacksonville and Greyhound to Gainesville. Once you insert 'Gator City Taxi' between the two, you no longer have a transportation center.

Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around 3,200,000 annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

I'm going to say this with every ounce of my transit pundit heart and soul, BUILD THIS STATION AND THE JRTC COLLAPSES FROM AN INTERCITY TRANSFER HUB, TO A GOOD PLACE TO CATCH A BUS TO HEMMING PLAZA!

Mayor Brown? KILL THIS PROJECT. Consolidate the entire station into the old railroad terminal, the JRTC should be the surface hub of a 4 state region somewhat larger then LaVilla.

OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

August 01, 2012, 08:28:33 PM

"It's a CENTER idiot!"

vicupstate

August 01, 2012, 09:39:15 PM
What exactly does the city think they are going to do with the rest of the Prime Osborn property once the convention center moves?  They might as well put it to good use and fill it with transit.

Also, is there currently any show/conference/convention that takes place in the Prime that couldn't fit somewhere else??  between the Hyatt, the area, the fairgrounds, metro park, not to mention facilities outside of DT, I am pretty sure we could service the current convention center schedule with other venues for a few years until the new one is built.

I was on vacation recently and maybe missed it, but is relocating the Convention Center a 'done' or even 'close to done' deal?  Last I heard there was a plan to use the old courthouse site, but still very much a proposal at this point.   

It is not, but strong arguments have been made that the convention center is not worth its investment.  Regardless of what we do in the future, I think we need to quite using the PO as a convention center.

Do you mean a NEW Convention Center is not worth the investment, or even the existing one is not worth it's expense?

tufsu1

August 01, 2012, 10:05:06 PM
Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around the same as JIA annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

you're telling us the Greyhound has 6 million riders a year coming in and out of Jacksonville?  Or are you including those travelling through (that just stay on the bus)

BackinJax05

August 02, 2012, 12:20:55 AM
Typical Jacksonville: Do it ass backwards!

These geniuses need to pull their heads out of their butts & visit the West Palm Beach transportation center. There, the beautiful old Seaboard Air Line depot now serves Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Greyhound, and Palmtrans. Have been there several times and never had any problems with the vile Greyhound passengers ;)

In West Palm Beach all passengers need to do to get from one mode of transit to another is walk down (or up) the platform, or walk over the tracks via pedestrian bridge.

SightseerLounge

August 02, 2012, 12:55:16 AM
Typical Jacksonville: Do it ass backwards!
Yes!
Jacksonville wants to keep that small town mentality, so they fail on purpose!

thelakelander

August 02, 2012, 01:00:45 AM
Here's St. Paul, MN's intermodal center project.



Eerily similar, it involves the renovation of a 1917 depot (Jax's was built in 1919) that closed in 1971 (Jax's closed in 1974). Construction began in 2010 and the project will be completed later this year.

Amtrak service begins 2012.
Local & Intercity bus service begins 2012.
LRT service begins when the Green Line opens in 2014.
Eventually, it will accommodate both commuter and high speed rail

Take a look at the site plan above and notice how compact the area is where passengers transfer between modes.



BackinJax05

August 02, 2012, 03:27:09 AM
Here's St. Paul, MN's intermodal center project.



Eerily similar, it involves the renovation of a 1917 depot (Jax's was built in 1919) that closed in 1971 (Jax's closed in 1974). Construction began in 2010 and the project will be completed later this year.

Amtrak service begins 2012.
Local & Intercity bus service begins 2012.
LRT service begins when the Green Line opens in 2014.
Eventually, it will accommodate both commuter and high speed rail

Take a look at the site plan above and notice how compact the area is where passengers transfer between modes.





This could work here, too. We all know (except the geniuses with their heads up their butts) there is more than enough room at Jacksonville Terminal to do the same thing, only better.

Jacksonville Terminal is prettier than St. Paul's. I admire what they're doing up there, but that thing looks like an oversized tomb.

vicupstate

August 02, 2012, 05:44:42 AM
Just think of the money that could be generated just from the city/JTA being able to sell the unneeded excessive land,  Plus the tax revenue that would be generated from it.  That alone would pay the costs of redesigning it and more.

urbaknight

August 02, 2012, 02:24:08 PM
The excess land can be developed into apartment buildings, at least mid-rises but of course all of you I really want to see high-rises. We could really cluster it up with true urban TOD. And with all the possible residents, another supermarket would be practical, maybe the DT post office can be relocated for pedestrians to be able to use. It would be very easy to run a trolley over to the entertainment areas. (with a pretty small space, it would be to run often)
 
Maybe it's just me but, I feel as though the city and/or JTA simply assumes that people that use public transit, don't have extra money to spend. Is that why the buses don't seem to go where people want to go?

 Is it too late to kill the current JRTC plan?

tufsu1

August 03, 2012, 03:58:31 PM
^ yeah, but don't ask how much that thing cost....it somewhere in the neighborhood of the JRTC cost ($180 million) x 15

thelakelander

August 03, 2012, 04:00:43 PM
Yeah, with that peoplemover, heavy rail platform and large concrete parking deck, they spent a pretty penny.

finehoe

August 03, 2012, 04:26:51 PM
I liked this line:

Quote
the Miami Intermodal Center, which is basically a huge food court for car rental companies

Ocklawaha

August 03, 2012, 09:39:53 PM
Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around the same as JIA annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

you're telling us the Greyhound has 6 million riders a year coming in and out of Jacksonville?  Or are you including those travelling through (that just stay on the bus)

Good catch TUFSU... I meant to say, Greyhounds Jacksonville ridership is around 3.2 million annually (the actual number came from the CEO of GLI). Then stupidly running on memory and not having my notes in front of me, I somehow converted that to 8 million. Look's like I picked a bad day to quit sniffing glue!

Now when we are talking about critical mass let's assume that EVERY SINGLE JTA BUS & SKYWAY PASSENGER went into the JRTC, that's right at 10 million a year, + Greyhounds 3.2 + Amtrak's 74,000 the grand total would be: 13,348,733 using the 4 new stations. That comes to 3.3 million passengers - per station - per year. THAT is why we are told that we need this huge sprawling complex of stations. The grand old terminal handled 15 million passengers a year as an average! In fact it handled several times that number during the 'Great Florida Boom' of the 1920's. For a short time it was the busiest intercity railway station in the entire world. At that time it was handling 200 daily trains, many of which were operating in as  many as 24 'sections'.  So you bought a ticket on the Florida Special and the advance FS is ready to leave the station when you walk in, in 10 minutes the FS will leave, then the 2nd FS, 3Rd FS, 4Th FS etc... At some point the station was fielding something like 50 trains per hour. ONE STATION DID THIS, NOT TWO, THREE OR FOUR. I wish this city would quit this nonsense of overbuilding fixed transit facilities so badly that they have a built in guarantee to fail. Otherwise we are doomed to add the historic railway terminal to JTA/FDOTS list of carnage.

When one station easily handled 15 million annual passengers, then JTA/FDOT comes along with this plan and claims 3.3 million passengers per station is REQUIRED or we'll have a melt down, you have to say, don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. No tickee no laundry JTA.


BigGuy219

August 07, 2012, 09:23:34 PM
^ the problem with that theory is a vast majority of people in Jacksonville probably see no need for the JRTC or transit at all.

as for the Greyhound Station, Mr. Blaylock told me last week that Greyhound really wants to be on Adams St..so they can get right onto I-95 NB....of course, never mind that being on Forsyth St would give them direct access from I-95 NB

I anticipated that someone would jump on the 'Greyhound really wants to be...' line of reasoning via FDOT/JTA. REALLY? I'm an old Jacksonville intercity bus supervisor and spoke with the president and CEO of GLI. He told me in no uncertain terms that GREYHOUND IS NOT DRIVING THIS THING, FDOT AND JTA ARE.

Tacachale, something EVERY citizen of Jacksonville should know is once you allow a disconnected intercity bus terminal to be built, blocks away from the side of any train, connectivity is gone. What purpose is a Transportation Center if it is not to make a trip from New York to Gainesville palatable? Amtrak to Jacksonville and Greyhound to Gainesville. Once you insert 'Gator City Taxi' between the two, you no longer have a transportation center.

Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around 3,200,000 annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

I'm going to say this with every ounce of my transit pundit heart and soul, BUILD THIS STATION AND THE JRTC COLLAPSES FROM AN INTERCITY TRANSFER HUB, TO A GOOD PLACE TO CATCH A BUS TO HEMMING PLAZA!

Mayor Brown? KILL THIS PROJECT. Consolidate the entire station into the old railroad terminal, the JRTC should be the surface hub of a 4 state region somewhat larger then LaVilla.

OCKLAWAHA

Are people really coming to Jacksonville from New York via Amtrak?

I've traveled from NYC to JAX twice in the past 45 days and flew both times.

I hate flying. I sit there clinging to the arm rests, with white knuckles, and grit teeth. It is one of the worst experiences in my life.

Since relocating to Jacksonville everytime I wanted to go back to NY I tried to get Amtrak tickets, and they were often 2 or 3 times the cost of my airline tickets.

Am I doing something wrong? I just don't see many people taking the train down if they can fly for half the price and 1/10th the time.

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 09:28:26 PM
^ the problem with that theory is a vast majority of people in Jacksonville probably see no need for the JRTC or transit at all.

as for the Greyhound Station, Mr. Blaylock told me last week that Greyhound really wants to be on Adams St..so they can get right onto I-95 NB....of course, never mind that being on Forsyth St would give them direct access from I-95 NB

I anticipated that someone would jump on the 'Greyhound really wants to be...' line of reasoning via FDOT/JTA. REALLY? I'm an old Jacksonville intercity bus supervisor and spoke with the president and CEO of GLI. He told me in no uncertain terms that GREYHOUND IS NOT DRIVING THIS THING, FDOT AND JTA ARE.

Tacachale, something EVERY citizen of Jacksonville should know is once you allow a disconnected intercity bus terminal to be built, blocks away from the side of any train, connectivity is gone. What purpose is a Transportation Center if it is not to make a trip from New York to Gainesville palatable? Amtrak to Jacksonville and Greyhound to Gainesville. Once you insert 'Gator City Taxi' between the two, you no longer have a transportation center.

Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around 3,200,000 annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

I'm going to say this with every ounce of my transit pundit heart and soul, BUILD THIS STATION AND THE JRTC COLLAPSES FROM AN INTERCITY TRANSFER HUB, TO A GOOD PLACE TO CATCH A BUS TO HEMMING PLAZA!

Mayor Brown? KILL THIS PROJECT. Consolidate the entire station into the old railroad terminal, the JRTC should be the surface hub of a 4 state region somewhat larger then LaVilla.

OCKLAWAHA

Are people really coming to Jacksonville from New York via Amtrak?

I've traveled from NYC to JAX twice in the past 45 days and flew both times.

I hate flying. I sit there clinging to the arm rests, with white knuckles, and grit teeth. It is one of the worst experiences in my life.

Since relocating to Jacksonville everytime I wanted to go back to NY I tried to get Amtrak tickets, and they were often 2 or 3 times the cost of my airline tickets.

Am I doing something wrong? I just don't see many people taking the train down if they can fly for half the price and 1/10th the time.

hmm.  I just checked tickets and from nyp (Penn Station, NYC) to Jax is 125 round trip, leaving on my birthday, september 28. 

Are plane tickets really only 32 dollars each way from NYC?

BigGuy219

August 07, 2012, 09:32:01 PM
^ the problem with that theory is a vast majority of people in Jacksonville probably see no need for the JRTC or transit at all.

as for the Greyhound Station, Mr. Blaylock told me last week that Greyhound really wants to be on Adams St..so they can get right onto I-95 NB....of course, never mind that being on Forsyth St would give them direct access from I-95 NB

I anticipated that someone would jump on the 'Greyhound really wants to be...' line of reasoning via FDOT/JTA. REALLY? I'm an old Jacksonville intercity bus supervisor and spoke with the president and CEO of GLI. He told me in no uncertain terms that GREYHOUND IS NOT DRIVING THIS THING, FDOT AND JTA ARE.

Tacachale, something EVERY citizen of Jacksonville should know is once you allow a disconnected intercity bus terminal to be built, blocks away from the side of any train, connectivity is gone. What purpose is a Transportation Center if it is not to make a trip from New York to Gainesville palatable? Amtrak to Jacksonville and Greyhound to Gainesville. Once you insert 'Gator City Taxi' between the two, you no longer have a transportation center.

Greyhound's Jacksonville ridership is around 3,200,000 annually, Amtrak is a lightweight by comparison.

I'm going to say this with every ounce of my transit pundit heart and soul, BUILD THIS STATION AND THE JRTC COLLAPSES FROM AN INTERCITY TRANSFER HUB, TO A GOOD PLACE TO CATCH A BUS TO HEMMING PLAZA!

Mayor Brown? KILL THIS PROJECT. Consolidate the entire station into the old railroad terminal, the JRTC should be the surface hub of a 4 state region somewhat larger then LaVilla.

OCKLAWAHA

Are people really coming to Jacksonville from New York via Amtrak?

I've traveled from NYC to JAX twice in the past 45 days and flew both times.

I hate flying. I sit there clinging to the arm rests, with white knuckles, and grit teeth. It is one of the worst experiences in my life.

Since relocating to Jacksonville everytime I wanted to go back to NY I tried to get Amtrak tickets, and they were often 2 or 3 times the cost of my airline tickets.

Am I doing something wrong? I just don't see many people taking the train down if they can fly for half the price and 1/10th the time.

hmm.  I just checked tickets and from nyp (Penn Station, NYC) to Jax is 125 round trip, leaving on my birthday, september 28. 

Are plane tickets really only 32 dollars each way from NYC?

Stephen I just checked on Amtrak for this Friday and got quoted $426 roundtrip (which was twice my last roundtrip airfare gotten through Priceline).

If I'm doing something wrong or if there's a train discount site, I'd really like to know, because I genuinely hate flying ... but $416 is too much.

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 09:36:05 PM
it is too much.  you just have to book a little ahead.  I just got a price flying from jacksonville to newyork tomorrow round trip for 750.

So it all depends on when and how far ahead you book.

JFman00

August 07, 2012, 09:37:04 PM
Jetblue roundtrip for the weekend of Sep 28th is 50 bucks less than Amtrak.

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 09:43:50 PM
Jetblue roundtrip for the weekend of Sep 28th is 50 bucks less than Amtrak.

jetblue has a roundtrip for 75 bucks? from nyc to jax?

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 09:49:37 PM
strange, but when I just searched on Jetblue, they were 100 bucks each way, plus tax and airport fees.  the total price for round trip was 260 something.

On Amtrak, the round trip price was a flat 125.  So flying is 135 dollars more round trip than amtrak.

BigGuy219

August 07, 2012, 09:51:19 PM
To me, this is even more disturbing.

TRAIN
Friday, August 10
JAX to NYP ... $213; 20 hr, 35 min
Source: Amtrak.com

BUS
Friday, August 10
Jacksonville Express to New York Express ... $95 (advanced purchase); 19 h, 48 minutes
Source: Greyhound.com

So the bus is faster then the train now?

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 09:56:28 PM
To me, this is even more disturbing.

TRAIN
Friday, August 10
JAX to NYP ... $213; 20 hr, 35 min
Source: Amtrak.com

BUS
Friday, August 10
Jacksonville Express to New York Express ... $95 (advanced purchase); 19 h, 48 minutes
Source: Greyhound.com

So the bus is faster then the train now?

you should travel by bus!  Problem solved!  you save 20 minutes!

JFman00

August 07, 2012, 09:58:00 PM
strange, but when I just searched on Jetblue, they were 100 bucks each way, plus tax and airport fees.  the total price for round trip was 260 something.

On Amtrak, the round trip price was a flat 125.  So flying is 135 dollars more round trip than amtrak.

Jetblue, round trip JFK-JAX leaving 28 SEP returning 1 OCT.

Fare:
$178.00 x 1 = $178.00
Taxes & Fees
$21.60
Total:
$199.60

Amtrak, same thing:


Friday, September 28, 2012
91 Silver Star  (NYP  -  JAX)
 
Depart: 11:02 am, Fri, Sep 28, 2012
Arrive: 6:55 am, Sat, Sep 29, 2012
Duration: 19 hr, 53 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$125.00

1 Reserved Coach Seat
 

Subtotal   $125.00
 
Monday, October 1, 2012
98 Silver Meteor  (JAX  -  NYP)
 
Depart: 5:08 pm, Mon, Oct 1, 2012
Arrive: 11:06 am, Tue, Oct 2, 2012
Duration: 17 hr, 58 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$125.00

1 Reserved Coach Seat
 

Subtotal   $125.00

Total $250.00

BigGuy219

August 07, 2012, 09:59:15 PM
To me, this is even more disturbing.

TRAIN
Friday, August 10
JAX to NYP ... $213; 20 hr, 35 min
Source: Amtrak.com

BUS
Friday, August 10
Jacksonville Express to New York Express ... $95 (advanced purchase); 19 h, 48 minutes
Source: Greyhound.com

So the bus is faster then the train now?

you should travel by bus!  Problem solved!  you save 20 minutes!

And $125ish!

You may be on to something.

In April I took Greyhound from Jacksonville to Miami and it was very pleasurable. Comfortable seats. Phone chargers. Food stops. Highly recommended.

I got a promotional rate and I believe my ticket was $10!

stephendare

August 07, 2012, 10:02:45 PM
To me, this is even more disturbing.

TRAIN
Friday, August 10
JAX to NYP ... $213; 20 hr, 35 min
Source: Amtrak.com

BUS
Friday, August 10
Jacksonville Express to New York Express ... $95 (advanced purchase); 19 h, 48 minutes
Source: Greyhound.com

So the bus is faster then the train now?

you should travel by bus!  Problem solved!  you save 20 minutes!

And $125ish!

You may be on to something.

In April I took Greyhound from Jacksonville to Miami and it was very pleasurable. Comfortable seats. Phone chargers. Food stops. Highly recommended.

I got a promotional rate and I believe my ticket was $10!

I will never willingly ride greyhound bus again in my life.  Some people don't seem to mind it, but I hated it. Crowded, uncomfortable seats, no way to walk around, and most of the customers seemed to be just released prisoners when I was going west.

Now the Green Tortoise Line was a different matter altogether.  http://www.greentortoise.com/adventure.travel.html

BigGuy219

August 07, 2012, 10:04:53 PM
To me, this is even more disturbing.

TRAIN
Friday, August 10
JAX to NYP ... $213; 20 hr, 35 min
Source: Amtrak.com

BUS
Friday, August 10
Jacksonville Express to New York Express ... $95 (advanced purchase); 19 h, 48 minutes
Source: Greyhound.com

So the bus is faster then the train now?

you should travel by bus!  Problem solved!  you save 20 minutes!

And $125ish!

You may be on to something.

In April I took Greyhound from Jacksonville to Miami and it was very pleasurable. Comfortable seats. Phone chargers. Food stops. Highly recommended.

I got a promotional rate and I believe my ticket was $10!

I will never willingly ride greyhound bus again in my life.  Some people don't seem to mind it, but I hated it. Crowded, uncomfortable seats, no way to walk around, and most of the customers seemed to be just released prisoners when I was going west.

Now the Green Tortoise Line was a different matter altogether.  http://www.greentortoise.com/adventure.travel.html

Stephen, have you tried it since they rebranded their image with the 'Express' service and improved busses?

It's worth a second look!

Bativac

August 07, 2012, 11:45:39 PM
I will never willingly ride greyhound bus again in my life.  Some people don't seem to mind it, but I hated it. Crowded, uncomfortable seats, no way to walk around, and most of the customers seemed to be just released prisoners when I was going west.

This! This! A THOUSAND TIMES THIS!!!

finehoe

August 11, 2012, 01:02:31 PM
Train vs. Plane going to NYC:

Keep in mind that all three major airports in the NYC region are not that close to the city, and it will cost you in both time and coin to travel between them and Manhattan. The train on the other hand will drop you off right into the heart of midtown.  Plus you can carry as much luggage as you want onto the train, and you don't have to arrive extra early to go through security.  Something to consider.

BackinJax05

August 11, 2012, 06:37:37 PM
^^Hopefully one day the train will drop passengers off in the heart (or perhaps bowels) of downtown here, too.

Ocklawaha

August 12, 2012, 12:15:24 AM
We the people still don't get it. Train travel shines in the 200-400 mile markets, ergo one doesn't ride the train to New York, they ride to Savannah, Orlando, Tampa, Charleston, Fayetteville, Raleigh etc. Those trips ARE served by a minuscule Miami-JAX-New York fleet of Amtrak trains.

So yes one CAN ride from JAX to New York, or from NYC to Miami, and if one knows how to travel (the true meaning of the word is to sojourn) it can be a very pleasurable experience. The song no longer applies... Harry would be proud.


GREYHOUND LYRICS
The Late Great Harry Chapin

It's midnight at the depot
And I drag my bags in line.
Travellin' light, I got to go
But the bus won't be on time.
Everybody's looking half alive.
Later on the bus arrives.

They punch my ticket
I find a seat
And we move out past the lights.
Come on Driver, where's the heat?
It's cold out in the night.
I keep telling to myself that I don't care.
Come tomorrow, I'll be there.

Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog of a way to get around.
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog gone easy way to get you down.

Frankly I find the bus and the train quite nice, and yes BIG GUY, the new PREVOST motor coaches are heads and shoulders above any other coach manufacturer. PREVOST CAR has long been the primo brand in the industry, and they know how to make passengers happy. Greyhound took a huge step when it abandoned it's own former subsidiary MCI (Motor Coach Industries) for a massive PREVOST CAR order. PREVOST merged with Volvo, a long time EU coach manufacturer just a couple of years back.




The Prevost H345, is not your fathers bus!

BackinJax05

August 12, 2012, 12:36:49 AM
We the people still don't get it. Train travel shines in the 200-400 mile markets, ergo one doesn't ride the train to New York, they ride to Savannah, Orlando, Tampa, Charleston, Fayetteville, Raleigh etc. Those trips ARE served by a minuscule Miami-JAX-New York fleet of Amtrak trains.

So yes one CAN ride from JAX to New York, or from NYC to Miami, and if one knows how to travel (the true meaning of the word is to sojourn) it can be a very pleasurable experience. The song no longer applies... Harry would be proud.


GREYHOUND LYRICS
The Late Great Harry Chapin

It's midnight at the depot
And I drag my bags in line.
Travellin' light, I got to go
But the bus won't be on time.
Everybody's looking half alive.
Later on the bus arrives.

They punch my ticket
I find a seat
And we move out past the lights.
Come on Driver, where's the heat?
It's cold out in the night.
I keep telling to myself that I don't care.
Come tomorrow, I'll be there.

Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog of a way to get around.
Take the Greyhound.
It's a dog gone easy way to get you down.

Frankly I find the bus and the train quite nice, and yes BIG GUY, the new PREVOST motor coaches are heads and shoulders above any other coach manufacturer. PREVOST CAR has long been the primo brand in the industry, and they know how to make passengers happy. Greyhound took a huge step when it abandoned it's own former subsidiary MCI (Motor Coach Industries) for a massive PREVOST CAR order. PREVOST merged with Volvo, a long time EU coach manufacturer just a couple of years back.




The Prevost H345, is not your fathers bus!

It does look nice, Ock. Personally I'd like to see a Greyhound with these features on a Senicruiser. :)

Pinky

August 13, 2012, 08:14:42 PM
strange, but when I just searched on Jetblue, they were 100 bucks each way, plus tax and airport fees.  the total price for round trip was 260 something.

On Amtrak, the round trip price was a flat 125.  So flying is 135 dollars more round trip than amtrak.

Jetblue, round trip JFK-JAX leaving 28 SEP returning 1 OCT.

Fare:
$178.00 x 1 = $178.00
Taxes & Fees
$21.60
Total:
$199.60

Amtrak, same thing:


Friday, September 28, 2012
91 Silver Star  (NYP  -  JAX)
 
Depart: 11:02 am, Fri, Sep 28, 2012
Arrive: 6:55 am, Sat, Sep 29, 2012
Duration: 19 hr, 53 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$125.00

1 Reserved Coach Seat
 

Subtotal   $125.00
 
Monday, October 1, 2012
98 Silver Meteor  (JAX  -  NYP)
 
Depart: 5:08 pm, Mon, Oct 1, 2012
Arrive: 11:06 am, Tue, Oct 2, 2012
Duration: 17 hr, 58 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$125.00

1 Reserved Coach Seat
 

Subtotal   $125.00

Total $250.00


20 hours?!?  In a coach seat???   Vs a two hour flight that costs less?   Seriously?  20 hours in a coach seat?  Without even getting into the value of my time, please someone help me understand why anybody (other than someone terrified of flying or a Train Fetishist) would ever do that.  TWENTY HOURS IN A SEAT. 

BackinJax05

August 13, 2012, 11:55:28 PM
I would. However, I can't stand flying AND I have a train FETISH - not Fetishist ;)

My dream 3some: ACL 1504, C&O 614, & me buried underneath em! :o

Non-RedNeck Westsider

August 13, 2012, 11:57:50 PM
Pinky, you do realize that you can get out of your seat and walk to the bar on the train, right?

Rocking side to side, drinking whiskey, 2 hours of drinking 18 hours of enjoying every inch of that seat in coach. 

thelakelander

August 14, 2012, 02:07:06 AM
20 hours?!?  In a coach seat???   Vs a two hour flight that costs less?   Seriously?  20 hours in a coach seat?  Without even getting into the value of my time, please someone help me understand why anybody (other than someone terrified of flying or a Train Fetishist) would ever do that.  TWENTY HOURS IN A SEAT. 

From Jax to NYC is over 900 miles.  You're better off catching a flight at that distance.  Intercity rail travel typically is the better option for trips under 400 miles or to cities that don't have major airports.  For example, there's 120 miles between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Traffic on I-5 is a bitch and in both cities you'll be paying a daily parking fee to park your car if you drive.  However, both have pretty good local mass transit options now.

Quote
Friday, August 31, 2012
562 Pacific Surfliner  (LAX  -  SAN)
 
Depart: 6:15 am, Fri, Aug 31, 2012
Arrive: 8:57 am, Fri, Aug 31, 2012
Duration: 2 hr, 42 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$45.00

1 Unreserved Coach Seat
 
Subtotal   $45.00
 
Sunday, September 2, 2012
763 Pacific Surfliner  (SAN  -  LAX)
 
Depart: 6:05 am, Sun, Sep 2, 2012
Arrive: 8:50 am, Sun, Sep 2, 2012
Duration: 2 hr, 45 min
Amenities
1 Adult
$45.00

1 Unreserved Coach Seat
 
Subtotal   $45.00

Total $90.00

Quote
Leave Fri, Aug 31 Total time: 0hr 52min
Depart
4:20 PM
Los Angeles, CA , United States
Los Angeles Airport, El Segundo (LAX) Terminal 8
Arrive
5:12 PM
San Diego, CA , United States
San Diego Airport (SAN) Terminal R
Flight 6338 Operated by /SKYWEST DBA UNITED EXPRESS

United Airlines 6338
Economy On-time performance: 80% Embraer 120 Brasilia Turboprop
98 mi 0hr 52minSeat map
Return Sun, Sep 2 Total time: 0hr 47min
Depart
4:26 PM
San Diego, CA , United States
San Diego Airport (SAN) Terminal R
Arrive
5:13 PM
Los Angeles, CA , United States
Los Angeles Airport, El Segundo (LAX) Terminal 8
Flight 6335 Operated by /SKYWEST DBA UNITED EXPRESS

United Airlines 6335
Economy On-time performance: 70% Embraer 120 Brasilia Turboprop
98 mi 0hr 47minSeat map

Your current trip cost
Flight
Adult: 1
$267.00
Airfare taxes and fees
$21.60
Total due at booking
$288.60

A roundtrip adult ticket on the train costs $90 and it will take 2hours 42 minutes.  A roundtrip flight will run you $288.60 and take 47 minutes by air.  However, you'll need to be at the airport at least 1.5 hours early and you'll get fleeced with the daily rate of parking your car, if someone doesn't drop you off.  Btw, did I mention that the train drops you off in the heart of both cities?

Pinky

August 14, 2012, 07:28:05 AM
I would. However, I can't stand flying AND I have a train FETISH - not Fetishist ;)

My dream 3some: ACL 1504, C&O 614, & me buried underneath em! :o

Having a Train Fetish makes you a FETISHIST.  Look it up before you "correct" me, ok?

Lunican

August 14, 2012, 08:54:20 AM
Am I doing something wrong? I just don't see many people taking the train down if they can fly for half the price and 1/10th the time.

Yes, you are using Amtrak wrong. You can use the airlines incorrectly in a similar way.


Jacksonville to Charleston

Air:
Leave Jacksonville JAX
Tue, Aug 28 5:00 PM

Arrive Charleston CHS
11:30 PM 2 stops
Duration: 6hr 30min

Roundtrip fare: $557.49


Amtrak
Depart: 5:08 pm, Tue, Aug 28, 2012
Arrive: 9:23 pm, Tue, Aug 28, 2012
Duration: 4 hr, 15 min

Roundtrip fare: $109.00

Ocklawaha

August 14, 2012, 02:13:11 PM
Ah the beauty of surface transportation, you can pick and choose what you want to see. As for myself, I really don't care if it's 2 hours or 20 hours. Following the advice of Non-RedNeck Westsider, a meal, after dinner drinks, my own bedroom, and I come away with more memories then seeing the other side of a cumulous cloud. Riding the train or the bus is often like seeing America with it's pants down, you see EVERYTHING. It's an education in a passing window view.

thelakelander

August 14, 2012, 02:25:54 PM
Lol, Ock, I know you're the exception to the rule.  However, for most people, if you have five to seven days of vacation to play around with, you don't want to spend 40 hours of it in commute.

wsansewjs

August 14, 2012, 03:13:53 PM
Ah the beauty of surface transportation, you can pick and choose what you want to see. As for myself, I really don't care if it's 2 hours or 20 hours. Following the advice of Non-RedNeck Westsider, a meal, after dinner drinks, my own bedroom, and I come away with more memories then seeing the other side of a cumulous cloud. Riding the train or the bus is often like seeing America with it's pants down, you see EVERYTHING. It's an education in a passing window view.

Ohhhhh Uncle Ockie! I really appreciate your words and all the funny and playful [sexual] stuff in it. I would love to see America with her pants down as I choo-choo along the tracks.

Never again... never... will I think the same about riding a train.

-Josh
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